Vernacular: A vernacular, or vernacular language, is the language or variety of a language used in everyday life by the common people of a specific population. It is distinguished from a standard, national, or literary language or a lingua franca, used to facilitate communication across a large area.
Oh, Dear Reader, remember this day.
This is the day that we learn something important…something almost nobody else knows.
We just discovered it yesterday; today, we pass it along. It is going to be very useful for us.
Unparalleled economic expansion
Before we do, we turn to the financial news — just to show you that we’re paying attention.
And yes, the Dow got a good boost yesterday, up more than 300 points. Reports this morning say that investors are less worried about a trade war. On the internet, too, are millions of posts and headlines describing what a great job President Trump is doing:
‘Unemployment at a 50-Year Low’…’Black unemployment at a record low’…’Nasdaq at a Record High’…’A Peace Summit with North Korea…’
Political writer G Heath King, to single out one example for future embarrassment, gushes that ‘Trump […] hammered out and finessed the formula for an unparalleled economic expansion in peace time…’
But remember, there are still nearly 1,500 Dow points between here and January’s top. Unless the index rises above its last high, we believe the primary trend is down.
But we will leave that for today and return to the subject at hand: the vernacular.
There is the world as it is s’posed to be. And there is the world as it is. Probably the hardest thing for people to do is to open their eyes and see it.
Or hear it.
If you hear someone speaking a foreign language…you can go to the grammar books and dictionaries to find out what he is saying. You won’t really find out what he is saying, but you’ll find out what he’s s’posed to be saying.
In English, for example, a proper response to the statement, ‘I’m looking for Mr Jones’, could be: ‘I am the person of whom you speak’.
But people don’t say that. They say: ‘That’s me’.
That response is welcome if you are serving a summons. But it causes grammarians to squirm.
The vernacular evolves…often in response to formal rules. Many people today are afraid of the word ‘me’. They recall vaguely that the grammarians disapprove of it. So they go with ‘myself’, even though it doesn’t make much sense.
‘Who was playing the guitar?’
They are also afraid of being politically incorrect.
So instead of saying ‘everyone thinks he should speak correctly’, they say ‘everyone thinks they should speak correctly’, which is formally incorrect and still logically idiotic. Now, it has become the new officially approved grammar.
Winston Churchill once mocked people who tried to speak ‘correctly’, saying: ‘That is nonsense up with which I will not put.’
But let’s not get sidetracked…We’re tracking bigger game here.
There’s a difference between what is and what is s’posed to be in other things, too.
Over thousands of years, vernacular architecture, manners, rules, transportation, laws…and even money…have evolved.
No government declared gold to be money, for example. Instead, it arose naturally as people found it useful. Later, governments declared other things to be ‘money’. These paper monies work well, more or less. But in a crisis, people tend to go back to the monetary vernacular: gold.
No law requires people to say please and thank you, either. But they generally do…and they generally find that it makes casual exchanges more agreeable.
Occasionally, as in the fervour of a revolution, these ‘bourgeois affectations’ are dropped in favour of some ideologically correct claptrap.
‘Vive la révolution!’ was a popular greeting in France for a while in the 1790s. ‘Heil Hitler’ had its run, too. Both were soon dropped in favour of the vernacular.
Likewise, there is the formal government…and there are the informal rules, customs, and standards that people use to govern themselves.
Many of the colonies that gained independence after World War II, for example, used France, Britain, or the US as their templates.
Some created systems which, on paper, were almost exact copies of those in use in the US. They had bicameral legislatures, independent judiciaries, checks and balances — the whole kit and caboodle.
But the new democracies in Africa and Asia didn’t always function like their Western role models.
A French joke illustrates the power of the vernacular:
‘The mayor of an African town in one of France’s former colonies came to pay a visit to the mayor of a French town of more or less the same size. He was astonished at the mayor’s office. It was full of fine furniture, expensive paintings, and rich decorations.
‘“How can you afford these things on a mayor’s salary?” he asked.
‘The French mayor beckoned him over to the window.
‘“See that bridge? 10%.”
‘It took a moment for the African mayor to get the message. But his eyes lit up when he did.
‘Years later, the French mayor visited the African town. In the mayor’s office, he was shocked to find even more luxury than in his own — with Aubusson carpets, delicate Chinese vases, and Old Master paintings.
‘“Now, I have to ask you the same question you asked me,” he began. “How can you afford all of these things?”
‘The African mayor pointed out the window.
‘“See that bridge?”
‘“Well…no…I don’t see any bridge.”
Now, in the US, the Constitution still sits in its glass case. The Supreme Court still sits on its bench. Members of Congress still sit in camera. And bureaucrats and nomenklatura still plop their fat derrières down in their seats of authority.
Officially, nothing has changed.
But, in the vernacular, nothing is the same. Everyone knows that their congressman is a scoundrel. Everyone knows that their Constitution — except the Second Amendment! — is ancient history.
Everyone knows that their votes are mostly symbolic. And everyone knows that as long as the Dow is going up and unemployment is going down — even on paper…
…they don’t give a damn.